Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, January 2012
Geranium farreri - by Harold McBride

This  genus offers the gardener   300 species  to chose from;  however many of the larger species are only suitable for the very large rock garden.

 Some  species may seed around, and on a recent visit to a friend's garden   that contained a major collection, I was  told me that the removal of  annually self -sown geranium seedlings was a major problem to contend with.

 Genanium farreri will never cause you any such problems, indeed if I ever find any self - sown seedlings I count myself most fortunate.

This diminutive Geranium hails from very high altitudes in China but adopts to our lowland gardens very well. The type plant is very neat  and clump forming, usually  no more than  10 to 15 cm in height.

The flowers produced  in early summer on red stalks are about 3cm in diameter, soft pink with deeper veining  and the centre has  a prominent tuft of black anthers .

The AGS Encyclopaedia suggests that G. farreri is suitable for Alpine house culture; however I would not waste  valuable space growing  it under glass as it is very much at home in a trough, and recently I tried it in my crevice bed  and find it seems to enjoy this garden habitat.


 Cuttings taken from just below soil - level in late spring  root readily. However I usually rely on seed for new plants.     While this geranium is not as prodigal with its seed as other species, when available  I sow the seed  when ripe and germination  occurs  in late April, the seedlings are pricked out and are over wintered in a cold frame  before planting in situ. 

Not  appearing in nursery  catalogues as often as it should, G  farreri is usually listed on the AGS  and other Seed Exchanges . 

 I rate this superb little plant as one of Farrer’s best finds .